Ten US defence secretaries warn against Trump coup

WASHINGTON: Ten former US defence secretaries spanning administrations over 30 years issued an extraordinary appeal on Sunday to forestall the possibility of a military-supported Trump coup, warning US defence forces to stay out of politics even as the defeated President is making a desperate effort to stay in office by stirring up his extremist supporters.
“Efforts to involve the US armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into the dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory. Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic,” the defence secretaries said in an oped amid rising tensions in Washington DC, where a joint session of Congress is to convene on Wednesday to formally recognize Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential election.
Echoing Trump’s falsehoods and bogus claims that his campaign failed to prove in courts, some of his supporters are urging vice-president Mike Pence to go beyond his ceremonial duties and ignore the verdict of the states and take steps to award the defeated President a second term.
Separately, Trump has also placed loyalists in the Pentagon amid reports that they have been balking at cooperating in the transition process. The secretaries cautioned against any disruption in the process warning that it could lead to where the nation is vulnerable to actions by adversaries seeking to take advantage of the situation.
Constituting an unprecedented smackdown of a prospective Trump coup, the oped signatories included Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, William Perry and Donald Rumsfeld, 10 living former U.S. secretaries of defence who served in the Trump, Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations.
Several former and current lawmakers, including moderate GOP Senators, admonished extremists in the Republican Party who have cottoned on to Trump’s bogus claims of an election win.
“The 2020 election is over. All challenges through recounts and appeals have been exhausted. At this point, further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans’ confidence in the already determined election results,” a bipartisan group of 10 senators, including four Republicans, said in a statement.
Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, joined them in warning that it ‘is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than a federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and disenfranchise millions of Americans.”
The effort by Trump and his fundamentalist mob to steal the election has split the party with even those who previously supported him calling him “commander in thief” and a mobster.
“There HAS been absolutely appalling corruption surrounding the 2020 US Election. In fact, it’s so bad that the perpetrator may now face serious criminal charges. There’s just one problem for the man in the White House who’s been screaming about the corruption: the perpetrator of it… is President Donald J. Trump,” the commentator Piers Morgan wrote on Monday.
Morgan, a fervent Trump supporter, said Trump’s phone call to two Republican officials in Georgia was “a blatant attempt by the current President of the United States to make two elected officials commit a deliberate fraud on the American people. Trump is therefore breaking the law, in the most brazen way imaginable.”
Several political and legal luminaries are now calling for prosecuting the outgoing President amid persistent speculation that he will pardon himself before he demits office.

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